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Smart Textiles

Finnish smart clothing picks new career path

Research institutes and companies are working together to develop completely new products for the international markets.

27th September 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Finland

Medical/Hygiene, Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear, Protective

The Smart Clothing 2.0 project led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland will create business opportunities for Finnish smart clothing and services. Research institutes and companies are working together to develop completely new products for the international markets.

For the past ten years, major business opportunities have been predicted to open up for smart clothing. Technology can be integrated in textiles and clothing to enable simultaneous and real-time monitoring of multiple factors, functional smart adjustments, and the development of a wide range of service concepts for different consumer segments. The development of sensor and data communications technology in particular will enable significant international breakthroughs.

Smart Clothing 2.0 will identify distinct end user needs and the latest technological potential. This will help to develop new product and service concepts, working in close collaboration with the business participants. Functionality of the project's concepts will be tested by VTT and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, while the Emergency Services College will provide their expert opinions on both smart clothing and several service concepts, for example in matters related to accident call outs.

Commercialising Finnish expertise

"We are organising an ambitious collaboration network for smart clothing to commercialise Finnish expertise in the booming national and international markets. Ultimately, we will develop genuinely new smart clothing for diverse user groups, be it hikers, top athletes, firefighters, children of all ages, fitters working high on masts, personnel maintaining and installing lifts, or patients recovering in hospitals," said project leader and principal scientist Pekka Tuomaala, of VTT.

The project has five business participants, each developing smart clothes and services for their own company. Suunto's project includes several service concepts for exercise and leisure activities. Inkron will produce printed electronics solutions for textiles. Savox is planning new functionalities, for example for the needs of fire and rescue services. Reima encourages children to move using smart clothing concepts. Wind Controller develops smart clothing solutions and services for the needs of wind turbine fitters and maintenance personnel working in many types of extreme conditions.

Supporting collaboration

"In the Smart Clothing 2.0 project, national spearhead funding is used to support the deepening collaboration across the industry as a whole, and level the path for businesses accessing the international smart clothing markets, currently enjoying strong growth," said Specialist Jouko Salo from Tekes, the main funding agency for the project.

Led by VTT, Smart Clothing 2.0 was launched in June 2017 and will run until December 2018. In addition to Tekes and business participants (Suunto Oy, Inkron Oy, Savox Oy, Reima Oy ja Wind Controller Oy), the project is funded also by KONE Corporation, LähiTapiola Oy, Image Wear Oy ja Finlayson Oy.

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